How are we doing so far, friends? It’s halfway through the month, are we holding on to our resolutions? Full disclosure, I gave up on resolutions a few years back, but I am ever hopeful that I can recommit to eating more vegetables and a little less meat. So, ladies and gents, here is my latest veg burger. Eat more vegetables (it bears repeating.)
If we have to pay for the sins of December excess in January, then at least let it be with something tasty. These burgers with chopped poblano peppers, onions, carrots and zucchini and beans are far from boring. Served with a refreshing pineapple salsa on lettuce cups, they are filling and appealing and you can feel smug that you kept to your new eating plan. The burgers can be wrapped in plastic and frozen in individual sandwich bags if you don’t plan to eat them all right away, so you can pull one out for a quick meal.
Poblano peppers can range from mild to spicy, so taste a piece before you chop it if you don’t want a lot of heat; you can also substitute a bell pepper to avoid extra hotness if that’s your preference. You will use a food processor for all the chopping and there is no need to wash it in between tasks, so cleanup is at a minimum. Start by finely chopping the vegetables and softening them in a little oil in a skillet. Pulse a slice of bread to make soft breadcrumbs. The beans should be rinsed, drained and spread on a paper-towel lined baking sheet to dry to keep them from becoming a mushy puree in the processor. A few pulses are all you need to chop them coarsely. Once cooked lightly in oil, the burgers could be served on a bun, but there’s virtue in the lettuce cups, and the pineapple salsa will make you dream of the tropics despite the January chill.
Vegetable burgers with pineapple salsa
For the salsa
1 cup diced fresh pineapple
1 diced Persian (small, seedless) cucumber
1 small poblano chili, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon or more chopped red onion or scallions, to taste
1 /2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
Juice of 1 lime, or more, to taste
Salt, to taste
1. In a bowl, stir together the pineapple, cucumber, poblano, onion or scallions and cilantro leaves.
2. Stir in the lime and salt. Taste and add more lime juice or salt, if you like.
For the burgers
1 poblano pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium zucchini (about 9 ounces), cut into 1-inch chunks
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 slice whole wheat bread, torn into pieces
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained and patted dry with paper towels
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed, drained and patted dry with paper towels
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
12 leaves of Boston lettuce or radicchio
1. In a food processor, pulse the poblano or green pepper, onion and carrot until finely chopped. Add the zucchini and pulse again to chop it.
2. In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the pepper, onion, carrot and zucchini. Cook, stirring often, for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables soften and most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a large bowl. Wipe out the skillet
3. Without cleaning the food processor, add the torn bread pieces and pulse until they form soft breadcrumbs. Add to the bowl of vegetables.
4. Line a baking sheet with a paper towel and spread the rinsed and drained beans on top. Pat them dry with another paper towel to remove excess moisture. In the food processor (again, don’t bother to wash it), pulse the beans until they are in small pieces, but not pasty. Transfer to the bowl with the vegetables and breadcrumbs.
5. Stir the egg, salt and pepper into the bowl until well mixed. Shape into 6 patties.
6. In the skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the patties and cook for 5 minutes on a side, or until browned and hot all the way through.
7. Set two lettuce leaves on each plate. Top each with a burger and a spoonful of salsa. Sally Pasley Vargas
This recipe appeared in the Boston Globe in 2019